GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Catholic dioceses of Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo are making some changes to Mass to prevent the spread of illness.
Both dioceses are suspending distribution of wine during Holy Communion and advising people not to shake hands during the Sign of the Peace. The Grand Rapids diocese advised worshippers not hold hands when saying the Our Father.
“We’ve been, throughout the flu season until now, encouraging people to stay attentive to basic hygiene practices,” Grand Rapids Diocese Director of the Office of Worship Aaron Sanders told News 8. “That not only protects themselves, but is a good way of taking care of other parishioners within the church. We shouldn’t just think about whether we feel like we could get to mass, but be concerned for the affect it might have on all of those that we’re sharing the mass with.”
Both dioceses also ordered all Holy Water fonts be emptied and cleaned. Grand Rapids said they would not be refilled, while Kalamazoo said they should be cleaned and refilled after each Mass if possible.
The dioceses also told parishioners to stay home if they feel sick. The Grand Rapids diocese televises the 10 a.m. Sunday mass from the Cathedral of St. Andrew weekly as an option for those who don’t attend in person.
Keystone Community Church in Ada and Alger Park Church in Grand Rapids say they are also monitoring the virus situation closely. They will continue to follow guidelines set by state and national health officials.
“As is our standard practice, we will continue to clean and sanitize all surfaces, equipment, toys and spaces within our facility. We will ensure that hand sanitizing stations and wipes are available throughout the facility,” Keystone Church staff said in an email to its members earlier this week.
The changes come amid renewed concerns about coronavirus after Michigan recorded its first two cases. Both are in the southeast part of the state. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Tuesday after the cases were confirmed.